LRB on the growing phenomenon of “Eurenglish,” a language shaped by the bureaucratic vagaries of the EU:
“Turning Eurenglish back into sense feels a bit like the Laputan project of reducing human excrement to its original food. Some words are just made up. A case in point is ‘comitology’ which, as Gardner notes, doesn’t exist outside the EU and ‘is formed from a misspelt stem (committee has two ‘m’s and two ‘t’s)’. The word seems to mean something like ‘the study of committees’ and ‘the structure of committees set up by the EU to review its own legislation’.
With such langue de bois no wonder everyone’s confused. Take for example the phrase ‘budget line’, apparently widespread in EU texts, which Gardner says ‘does not exist in English’. He goes on to note that there is no agreement about what ‘budget line’ means anyway. Maybe this goes some way to explaining why auditors fail to sign off the EU’s accounts.”
I’m hardly a purist when it comes to English, but some of the phrases here would drive me nuts if I had to read them on a daily basis. In some ways it’s worse than Newspeak.